Posts tagged ‘Group Inc’

Corporate Crony Entitlement

This story is simply  unbelievable.  Shareholders of AIG should have been wiped out in 2008 in a bankruptcy or liquidation after it lost tens of billions of dollars making bad bets on insuring mortgage securities.  Instead, AIG management and shareholders were bailed out by taxpayers.

It is bad enough I have to endure those awful commercials with AIG employees "thanking" me for their bailout.  It's like the thief who stole my TV sending me occasional emails telling me how much he is enjoying it.

Now, AIG managers and owners are considering suing the government because the the amazing special only-good-for-a-powerful-and-connected-company deal they got was not good enough.

Directors at American International Group Inc., AIG -1.28% the recipient of one of the biggest government bailout packages during the financial crisis, are considering whether to join a lawsuit that accuses the U.S. government of too-onerous terms in the 2008-2009 rescue package.

The directors will hear arguments on Wednesday both for and against joining the $25 billion suit, a person briefed on the matter said. The suit was filed in 2011 on behalf of Starr International Co., a once very large AIG shareholder that is led by former AIG Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. It is pending in a federal claims court in Washington, D.C....

Starr sued the government in 2011, saying its taking of a roughly 80% AIG stake and extending tens of billions of dollars in credit with an onerous initial interest rate of roughly 15% deprived shareholders of their due process and equal protection rights.

This is especially hilarious since it coincides with those miserable commercials celebrating how AIG has successfully paid off all these supposedly too-onerous obligations.  And certainly Starr and other AIG investors were perfectly free not to take cash from the government in 2008 and line up some other private source of financing.  Oh, you mean no one else wanted to voluntarily put money into AIG in 2008?  No kidding.

Postscript:  By the way, employees of AIG, you have not paid off all the costs of your bailout and you never will.  The single largest cost is the contribution to moral hazard, the precedent that insurance companies, if sufficiently large and well-connected in Washington, can reap profits on their bets when they go the right way, and turn to the taxpayer to cover the bets when they go wrong.

Irony

Via the WSJ, on the Mortgage Banker's Association (MBA) being underwater on their real estate loan:

On Friday, CoStar Group Inc., a provider of commercial real estate data, announced that it had agreed to buy the MBA's 10-story headquarters building in Washington, D.C., for $41.3 million. The price is well below the $79 million the trade group says it paid for the glass-walled building in 2007, while it was still under construction. The price also falls short of  the $75 million of financing that the MBA received from a group of banks led by PNC Financial Services Group Inc. for the purchase.

John Courson, chief executive officer of the trade group, declined in an interview Saturday to say whether the MBA would pay off the full loan amount. "We're not going to discuss the financing," he said. A spokeswoman for the MBA added that the MBA has reached "an agreement with all relevant parties" regarding the outstanding amount on that loan but declined to provide any details.

...In an interview late last year, Mr. Courson said he believed mortgage borrowers should keep paying their loans even if that no longer seemed to be in their economic interest.  He said paying off a mortgage isn't only a matter of personal interest.  Defaults hurt neighborhoods by lowering property values, Mr. Courson said. "What about the message they will send to their family and their kids and their friends?" he asked.

Our Technology Is Not Economic -- Do We Invest in R&D, or Lobbying?

Lobbying of course!  Silly rabbit. 

The wind industry's trade group spent nearly $816,000 to lobby last
year as wind companies tried to persuade Congress to extend a key tax
credit and make power companies use more renewable sources.   

Despite the efforts of the American Wind Energy Association, neither desire found its way into legislation this past year.   

The
group, whose members include General Electric Co., BP PLC, AES Corp.
and FPL Group Inc., is still pushing for the tax-credit extension after
lawmakers failed to tuck into the economic stimulus plan. The industry
argues that 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investments are at risk if
the 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour tax credit doesn't get a second wind.
It expires in 2008.

Here is the really, seriously amazing part:  In 2004, there were just over 400,000 people employed in the US power generation, transmission, and distribution business.  This means that, incredibly, this advocacy group is claiming nearly 30% of the electric utility industry owes their job to wind power, despite wind generating a bit less than 1% of all the power in the US.  If this is true, then here is a solution - forget the 1.9 cent subsidy, and cut some staff. 

Oh, you mean that job number probably isn't real, kind of like those municipal stadium and sports team subsidy studies.  Really?  Boy are you cynical.   

(HT Tom Nelson)

Computer Models In Complex Systems

Apparently, there are some dangers with getting too confident about your computer modeling of complex systems:

Computers don't always work.

That was the lesson so far this month for many so-called quant hedge
funds, whose trading is dictated by complex computer programs.

The markets' volatility of the past few weeks has taken a toll on
many widely known funds for sophisticated investors, notably a
once-highflying hedge fund at Wall Street's Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Global Alpha, Goldman's widely known internal hedge fund, is now
down about 16% for the year after a choppy July, when its performance
fell about 8%, according to people briefed on the matter.

This kind of reminds me of another kind of computer modeling of complex systems.